The title is not mine but comes from a series of articles I discovered late last year. While reading through the “Letters to Stagnant Christians,” I found them both convicting and insightful. The author, David De Bruyn, is a Reformed Baptist pastor in South Africa. Though the context in which he ministers might seem a world away, his “letters” prove that the same spiritual struggles stymie Christian growth and maturity across ethnic, national, and cultural boundaries.
I thought Pastor De Bruyn had stopped at the sixth but guess not! I will repost these letters as long as he keeps writing them. Here is a sample of the seventh, followed by a link to the original article:
I’m glad you’re taking the new year as an opportunity to seek real spiritual growth. Yes, I did write to Mike, and he has obviously experienced some benefit, so I am happy to write similarly to you, as you’ve requested.
William, you are a first-generation Christian. That is, your parents were not Christians who practised regular spiritual disciplines. Our parents are the ones who shape many of the routines and rhythms of our adult lives. We tend to model and continue the rhythm of life that our parents bequeathed to us, with modifications. That means, lacking such an example from your parents, you have to learn the disciplines associated with church life from scratch. Your parents did not teach you, so you have to learn elsewhere.
Unfortunately, many people in your position make a fundamental error. Thinking that church is akin to certain other public gatherings, they treat it in the same way. For example, they think a church service is closest to attending a concert, or a speech, or a political rally, or a public lecture, or a hobby club or society. Therefore, they treat it similarly: they attend it as regularly as they would one of those events, they mingle or socialise at about the same level of familiarity or superficiality, and they involve themselves with a similar level of commitment.
What that looks like, at least in your case, is that you attend about three out of every seven Sundays. You probably don’t notice it, but that means you’re in church 22 Sundays out of the 52. Or to put it another way, you’re in church for five months of the year, and absent for seven.